Hello and welcome back to a Thursday edition of NHL rumours! We are quickly approaching the Stanley Cup Finals, but plenty is going on. Teams are rapidly positioning themselves for an offseason that features an expansion draft and comes after one of the strangest years of hockey ever witnessed. That means plenty to check on as time progresses. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Seattle Kraken, New Jersey Devils, and Adam Henrique.
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun recently shared some thoughts about who the Kraken might target for their first head coach.
Things getting more serious on the Jack Eichel trade front; all signs pointing to Brind'Amour staying put, plus more in my Rumblings notebook:https://t.co/fhfxQBnbVk
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 16, 2021
Analysis: The first Kraken coach will have an outstanding setup for success when the team takes the ice. They will have a strong roster buoyed by modern expansion draft rules and one of the most enthusiastic front offices in the league. Current general manager Ron Francis will have his pick of choices as Seattle’s first season approaches.
With that in mind, it makes sense that Rick Tocchet tops the list of candidates. He played with Francis for several years as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also handled himself well as the coach of he Arizona Coyotes despite the organization’s general disfunction; it isn’t easy to have two seasons above .500 when a franchise has been as embattled as Arizona. Tocchet would be a great coach with immediate clout at the top of the most intriguing team entering 2021-22.
Of course, every team making a deep run this postseason could have an assistant that gets interviewed. LeBrun also notes that New York Islanders‘ assistant Lane Lambert is a strong possibility. The 56-year-old coach only played for six years in the NHL in the 1980s, but he has helped mold the Isles into one of the league’s grittiest and most consistent teams. The decision could ultimately come down to how long New York lasts in the postseason and what sort of roster Francis and Seattle ownership wish to craft.
New Jersey Devils
Analysis: It is borderline incredible that any team would have interest in Ristolainen. The former eighth overall pick does post fine traditional scoring stats, but he’s a terrible liability in most other categories. His possession stats dropped for a fourth consecutive seasons en route to a 41.6 percent Corsi For and -7.0 relative Corsi. Ristolainen is an active drain on a team’s offensive output almost regardless of where he is deployed. When you factor in a cap hit of $5.4 million, you have a player that is barely tradeable for anything but the barest minimal of returns.
New Jersey would be much better served relying on either internal options or the free agent market. They already have two acceptable defenders for the right side of their blue line with P.K. Subban and Damon Severson. They can also try David Quenneville out as the third right-shot defender if the 23-year-old skater stays on defence. Finally, there is a prime option hitting the open market in the form of Dougie Hamilton. They should have plenty of cap space with only $41.6 million committed for the 2021-22 NHL roster.
However, Ristolainen could be a perfectly fine emergency option if the Devils miss on every other target. He does need heavy sheltering on offence, but it is hard to ignore a 6′-4″ defenceman that has posted over 0.40 points per game in five of eight seasons. He could probably handle second-pairing duties and contribute to the team’s second power-play unit. Ristolainen is far from ideal, but New Jersey must see something they can improve upon if they have expressed interest.
Rumour: 31 Thoughts also indicated that Adam Henrique’s recent captaincy at the World Championships could result in increased interest.
Analysis: It is hard to know why Henrique hasn’t grabbed more attention as a trade target. He has finished in the top-five for total points in the past several seasons and hasn’t scored fewer than 18 between 2012-13 and 2020-21. The former third-round pick has also been a positive offensive driver for almost his entire career. While it is true that Henrique is heavily sheltered in the offensive zone in recent years, it is still a good offensive profile.
It isn’t as though Henrique’s numbers look unsustainable either. He has a shot percentage that is consistently around 15 percent for the last several seasons. It is the sort of general production that is very reasonable when paired with a cap hit of only $5.82 million. Many teams could use a good middle-six centre with Henrique’s reliable goal-scoring numbers. The problem largely must come from the fact that he is 31 years old and under contract through 2023-24.
However, someone should absolutely consider trading for the veteran Duck. Many teams have their second centres locked in for next year, but someone like the Minnesota Wild might benefit from his acquisition. The team is both poised for a strong run in 2021-22 and relatively weak down the middle. Adding Henrique to the second line between players like Jordan Greenway and Mats Zuccarello feels like a brilliant move for a team that is building a winner in the Western Conference.
That’s it for this version of NHL Rumours, be sure to read our next edition.